Katakamidotcom News Indonesia


PM Netanyahu : We regret the loss of life

July 2, 2010

(KATAKAMI / FRANCE24/AFP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday ruled out any apology from his country for a deadly commando raid on a Turkish Gaza-bound aid ship in May that killed nine Turks.

“Israel cannot apologise because its soldiers had to defend themselves to avoid being lynched by a crowd,” Netanyahu said in an interview broadcast on public television.

“We regret the loss of life,” Netanyahu said.

Asked if Israel would be willing to pay compensation to the families of the victims, he said: “We have not discussed that.”

On May 31, Israeli special forces stormed a flotilla of six ships carrying aid for blockaded Gaza, killing nine Turks on board one of the vessels and sparking international outrage and straining ties with Ankara.

Israel has defended itself saying it had to stop vessels from travelling to Gaza since they could be carrying weapons for Hamas, an Islamist movement committed to the destruction of Israel which controls that Palestinian territory.

Turkey recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv and cancelled three planned joint military exercises after the raid. It also twice denied permission to Israeli military aircraft to use its air space.

Netanyahu’s remarks come two days after Trade Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu held secret talks in Brussels, to try and ease the feud sparked by the deadly raid.

The talks sparked tensions in Israel as it emerged that Netanyahu gave the go-ahead for the meeting without informing hardline Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has said he is opposed to any apology for the raid.

Netanyahu met Lieberman on Friday to mend ties with the firebrand top diplomat.

At the meeting, Lieberman reiterated that he does not want Israel to apologise or pay the compensation Turkey is seeking, saying it would harm Israel’s international standing, an official said.

Netanyahu praised the Brussels talks.

“This meeting was important in itself. It is important for Turkey and for israel that such meetings take place,” he said.

The prime minister also spoke about the commission set up by Israel to probe the raid, saying the Jewish state “has nothing to hide.”

“This commission has asked for widespread prerogatives and we have agreed to its request because we have nothing to hide,” he said.

Netanyahu also said that the commission “meets the demands” of the international community which has called for an investigation into the deadly operation.

Israel has resisted calls for an international probe into the raid, but appointed a commission of inquiry headed by a retired Supreme Court judge with two international observers.

The military has launched its own internal investigation.

Elsewhere Netanyahu said that during a visit to Washington next week for talks with US President Barack Obama he will discuss Iran’s nuclear programme and peace talks with the Palestinians.

“I will do everything possible to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and to promote the peace process,” with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said of his July 6 talks with Obama.

Netanyahu had to cancel a scheduled meeting with Obama to return home after the deadly May 31 raid.

US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said on Thursday that he anticipated Netanyahu would give Obama “a report on the early stages of the Israeli investigation into the flotilla tragedy.”


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